The Atlanta Braves did a bad, bad thing. Actually, they did a whole bunch of bad, bad things in the eyes of the MLB Commissioner. As a result, they’ve had several punishments levied down from Rob Manfred’s office, including limitations on future signings, the loss of their 2018 third round draft pick, and more details yet to come. What’s relevant to us Padres fans is that the Braves been forced to release a dozen prospects that they signed under the international free agent amateur signing system. Among them are Kevin Maitan, considered the top player of the 2017-18 IFA class, and Atlanta’s #9-ranked prospect as a 17-year-old along with several other players who were highly coveted during the signing process and who have started to show their talent in their minor league debuts. Our friends over at Talking Chop (the Braves’ SBNation site) ran a nice writeup covering the players who have now been granted free agency. Any team should be interested in the talent Kudos are due to Ben Badler at BaseballAmerica for staying out front on this whole story, he’s covered every facet of it, and a subscription to BA is a worthwhile expense for the dedicated baseball fan into prospects and drafts and minor league coverage.
The twelve former Brave farmhands who are now free agents are free to sign under the following conditions:
Rules for signing former Braves prospects:— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) November 22, 2017
*Dec. 5-Jan 15 window
*$200K exemption for any bonus
*Team can pick '17-'18 signing period or '18-'19
*Showcase for 12 players planned for end of Nov.
Believe it or not, there is precedence for this kind of thing, and the Padres benefitted from it. In 2016, the Red Sox were found to have broken MLB signing policies, resulting in the forefeiture of five contracts. The Padres signed one of those players, righty pitcher Cesar Gonzalez. With that kind of history, you know that AJ Preller has been paying close attention to these proceedings, and with a summer’s worth of scouting these kids in pro ball, they’ll be ready to make a deal.
The Padres entered the 2017-2018 international free agent signing period with a $5.75m hard cap, which was one of the eight highest allotments in the league. Due to the spending spree in the previous period, the organization has been limited to a maximum of $300k to sign any individual player. According to BaseballAmerica, the Padres have signed 34 players, but the total amount they’ve spent isn’t published. Teams may trade international spending money in player deals, but the Padres don’t seem to have made any transactions involving this money. Regardless, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Padres have some room left under their cap. While the top half of the former Braves kids will likely be looking for another seven-figure payday (and they have every right to do so), there are a bunch of quality players here who may be willing to sign with the Padres for a nifty $300k or so. Since the first $200k won’t count toward a team’s total pool, the Padres could realistically sign a handful of them while following the rules like a good team should.
The Braves’ farm system has consistently ranked among the finest in the game in recent years, as the Padres’ farm has steadily climed the same rankings. With the decimation caused by these penalties, the Padres have a prime opportunity to leap-frog their former NL West rivals. Friars ask forgiveness for our trespasses, for we forgive those who trespass before us. If the Friars can gain some parishioners in the process, the friarhood shall only grow stronger. Amen.